Issue 234
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Titanic the Musical is coming to Birmingham. And before you burst into Celine Dion and ruin anyone within ear-shot's week, this is not the musical of the movie. It originated on Broadway where Brummie director Thom Southerland discovered it, sailed it (incident-free) to our shores and added his spin. Via Southwark Playhouse, Charing Cross Theatre, Southampton and more, it will dock at the Hippodrome on June 4. And we learned in a ten-minute chinwag with Thom exactly why we should be buying tickets. And we're all invited to a post-show debrief in Mr Egg, too.

How often do you have to tell people this has nothing to do with the movie?
[Chuckling] Ohhh, frequently. A lot of people who come to watch, their first insight into what the Titanic was, was from the film. Mine was, in fact. Predominantly they’re coming to learn more, or to experience a musical telling of the same tale, but yes people do occasionally walk out asking where Jack and Rose were.

You’d be a lot richer if it was the musical of the movie, though, right?
Hahahaha! Yes, maybe so. The music is so beautifully crafted by Maury Yeston, that within the first ten minutes you’re not wishing it was anything else. The movie does several things with the story — shocking, saccharine, romantic treatments of the tragedy and they don’t interest me at all. This is a more heartfelt and real story about what the Titanic is and was.

Are you a Titanic nerd?
We're called Titanoraks, actually, but yes I am. More than just the ship though, it's a period of history that fascinates me. The one thing I can never really comprehend is that Titanic was nearly a quarter of a mile long and weighed 46,000 tonnes and the only thing that steered it was a wheel at the front! And their only navigation was a guy in a crow’s nest!

When you put it like that, I guess they were asking for trouble.
Well, engineering was evolving so quickly, they could build luxurious liners, but the technology couldn't catch up. Radar was still a decade away. The sheer audacity of building something so heavy and long, steered by two guys, one behind a wheel and another saying ‘yep, you’re all good, just keep going straight,' blows my mind.

How do you take such a tragic event and give it a musical spin? It’s sort of hard to grasp how the two can possibly combine?
I completely see that. People often feel that musical theatre has to only deal with happy subjects, but it’s not all Mamma Mia and 42nd Street, those wonderful care-free tales. Sometimes it's Les Mis, sometimes it's Oliver. The Titanic was the epitome of progress, everyone on board knew it was the glamorous event of the time — everybody that sailed on her knew they were experiencing greatness. Every musical has to have optimism and hope and yearning, and there’s so much of that here. For more than half of the show the people don’t know their fate, so there’s room for hope. It was the happiest time of their lives. It meant so much to everyone on board and you can tap into that for entertainment.

Do you actually bring the moment the ship sinks to stage?
You do see the last moments of the ship but the one thing I didn’t want to do with this show is simply replicate what happened. I think that’s bad taste. When the show was first announced in New York, when it was revealed that a team were going to produce a musical about the tragedy the New York Times ran the headline ‘Watch Them Sing, Watch Them Dance, Watch them Drown’.

Yeah, exactly. That was not what I wanted to do at all. I don’t want to spoil the show but something happens where everyone in the audience understands that this is the final moment, that the ship is tilting high in the air, the final moment that she went under. April 15, 1912.

Sounds haunting.
It is! The cast gets quite overwhelmed with emotion because they are playing characters that were real people — some of whom lived through the experience. So the show obviously takes a very different turn at the critical point, and the actors speak lines that were spoken by survivors directly to the audience. They tell you, firsthand, what these people saw. And how they went on to live their lives after. It is haunting, absolutely. We’ve had relatives of some of those people who are being portrayed on stage come up to us after the show and say, “that was my great-grandfather” and it brings it home. But having said all that, it’s a wildly entertaining show, too. You'll only know how we balance these emotions by seeing it, I guess.

And you used to visit the Hippodrome as a kid, right?  
Yes! In the 80s and early 90s the Hippodrome is where I caught the theatre bug! Touring shows and the panto, front row with my grandmother. Mr Egg afterwards or maybe a bite to eat at Rackhams, if I was lucky.  

You went to Mr Egg? The theatre of dreams!
I did, yes. Is it still there?

Not as you know it, Thom. Not as you know it.
Hmm, well maybe I'll give it a go after one of the shows.

Can we come?
You can come. 
Titanic the Musical is at the Hippodrome from June 4 to 9. Tickets


Want to feel old? There’s now a lot longer between today and Star Wars: Episode I's release than there was between it and Return of the Jedi. Viewed through that prism, getting this fourth Star Wars film in 30 months should feel like an embarrassment of riches. Instead, the galaxy far, far away feels a lot less special now Disney has sent it out onto the streets in fishnets and leopardskin – and that’s probably a good thing, allowing all but the most avid fans to enjoy decent space adventures without the absurd weight of almost 40 years of fandom piled onto what are essentially Flash Gordon do-overs. There’s a lot to enjoy in Solo in that respect, and a lot to spoil with too much detail, but the nods to other Star Wars films are kept discrete and the western-in-space feel absolutely works. Poor Alden Ehrenreich, though, can’t hope to match Harrison Ford’s charisma. Times & trailer


The rainbow bus stops and security cordons at New Street are all well and good, but this weekend it's the real deal. From the parade at 12pm on Saturday, by order of Birmingham Pride, the city's going to smile and sparkle right past our bedtime on Sunday. And that extends far past the huge line-ups in the Gay Village, which you definitely won't need our help to locate. Just turn up to hear an extraordinary collection of children’s stories inspired by the lives of LGBTQIA+ people and their experience of the world (with Ginger Johnson, 3pm Sunday). Or how's about some musicalness with with former WWF Lightweight Champion and international dance music DJ Lady Miss Ikea, appearing before RuPaul’s Drag Race in the Symphony Hall's cafe bar no less. 'Be You' is this year's call to action and whether you can or can't make it to this Pride, maybe give that bit a go?
Venue: Chung Ying Cantonese, 16-18 Wrottesley Street, B5 4RT; Facebook
Choice: King Prawn Har Gow (£6); Chooser: James Wong, Owner

Smashed avo, eggs Benny and the hallowed full English. All hail! But also do some hailing on a very different interpretation of brunch. Dim sum (dumplings), congee (savoury porridge) and claypot rice (yeah, so that would be a pot made with clay, filled with rice) are how you deal with the middle of your morning in Hong Kong, and now in China Town. Chung Ying's take on the full English comes with preserved sausage and an egg. But the bit you really want to get right into? The day-making, salty, coated rice under said sausage. For novelty alone, order this dish. For easily the darned tastiest dim sum we've tried in Brum, start with the king prawn har gow — a delicate, light dumpling which is improved only by a dab of the house chilli oil. After picking a few of the more unusual sounding bites (honeycomb tripe with satay anyone?) get the Chiu Chow dumplings which are filled with pork, coriander and peanuty goodness and did outrageous things to our general levels of happiness. The Hong Kong style congee (£6) split the table more resolutely than a chainsaw, but do get it if there are a few of you, and we'll leave you to decide if it's the hangover cure we were promised. Available from 10am daily.
Brunch menu


There's something to be said for a morning routine. But there's more to be said for a glittertastic rave before you've even made it to the office. Morning Gloryville is making its first visit to Brum and bringing with it DJs, a yoga zone, sparkles, and a breakfast station. Yes, we said breakfast, because this shiny shindig has a start time of 7am. The completely sober bish-bash-bosh is all about helping you to feel flip-fandango-ingly fantastic. Think cacoa smoothies, three types of massage, a circle where you just hold hands with your fellow ravers and all the dancing. The launch event for Birmingham International Dance Festival sounds wonderfully unBritish to us. Usually £13.50, tickets are £10 if you enter DANCEICHOOSE at checkout. Glitter you there.


You know how Zindiya is the best thing since sliced naan? The people behind the Moseley magic-maker are getting into Solihull, with the launch of Tap & Tandoor mid-June. And for you slightly smug Moseleyites living close to the team's current digs, you're going to need to make the journey. Rather than just replicating its current success, this second spot is going to be closer to a gastro pub than street food gaff, with no-nonsense home-style curries and craft beers. Plus prime cuts, like lamb chops and salmon tikka, given a lesson by charcoal. The beer-battered bhajis will however be our very first order. Join Tap & Tandoor's mailer before 12pm on June 1 to be in with a chance of winning a meal with a value of upto £100. Menu

43. That's the number of keg lines at new pub, Head of Steam, which opens on Temple Street this very June 7. Le menu
The wholesale market has officially closed. From May 30 to June 3, the site will be taken over by 16-screens of footage of the site, live musicians, art and performance. Tickets for Everything Must Go are from £5.
Take a tour of Birmingham Brewing Company, or maybe try its Beer School on for size. Dates have now been published right up until the end of the year.
Get braised duck wings together with all sorts of brillo looking foodness at Eat Vietnam's BoneHead takeover — on May 29 from 5pm. Detailios
Secret bao bar tonight. Tell nobody.

"I think I'm going to be a pilot." 

Hans Solo, Solo: A Star Wars Story

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WORDS: Katy Drohan, Tom CullenAndrew Lowry

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